By Michael Dransfield
Born: 1948
Poem Written: 1971

It is waking in the night,

after the theatres and before the milkman,

alerted by some signal from the golden drug tapeworm

that eats your flesh and drinks your peace;

you reach for the needle and busy yourself

preparing the utopia substance in a blackened

spoon held in candle flame

by now your thumb and finger are leathery

being so often burned this way

it hurts much less than withdrawal and the hand

is needed for little else now anyway.

Then cordon off the arm with a belt,

probe for a vein, send the dream-transfusion out

on a voyage among your body machinery. Hits you like


sweet, illusory, fast, with a semblance of forever.

For while the fires die down in you,

until you die down in the fires.

Once you have become a drug addict

you will never want to be anything else

Literary Analysis

          This poem relies heavily on metaphors and imagery to convey the intended emotions of the author. For example, the phrase "golden drug tapeworm" is meant to convey the feeling of reliance on drugs and continual craving for them, and the passage about internal fire is intended to create an image that will relay the effects of drugs and addiction. The speaker in this poem is the drug user, and self proclaimed drug addict. The message of the poem is mixed however, as some of the drug-related imagery is negative (tapeworm, fires, etc.) while some of it is more positive (utopia substance, dream-transfusion, etc.). Overall, however, the poem is complementary of drug use (common for the 60's) but addresses the unpleasantness of drug cravings.


I chose this photo because the poem refers to "the fires [that] die down in you, until you die down in the fires." This could refer to the effects of the drug, or the craving for the drugs, but either way I chose the flames to represent the poem.

Historical Analysis

          This poem is about drug use that was prevalent in the 1960's and 1970's in the US. Included in the counterculture movement was the increased usage of drugs. The author himself was Australian, but his drug use was similar to that of the American counterculture movement. The poem reveals the openness with which drug users could talk about their experiences during the 60's as well as the author’s preference for, and even promotion of drugs. Though drug use was a large part of the counterculture movement, eventually it became one of the contributing factors to the movement’s demise in America.

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